What is Olecranon Bursitis?
Olecranon Bursitis affects the olecranon bursa, a small sac of fluid which sits just over the hard bony process at the base of the elbow. Bursae are found throughout the body and produce synovial fluid to reduce friction between muscles, tendons,
ligaments and bones as they move over each other. If a bursa is injured or irritated, it can become inflamed, painful, red and swollen and this condition is referred to as bursitis. Olecranon bursitis is particularly common in men between the ages of 30-60.
What causes it?
Olecranon bursitis can be caused by a number of factors:
- physical trauma to the elbow
- joint overuse
A sharp blow to the elbow, through a fall or hit, might damage the bursa leading to bursitis. In other cases, the bursa can be infected by bacteria, which enter the body through a small skin tear. Bursitis can also develop slowly through friction of the nearby muscles that cause the bursa to become irritated and inflamed.
What are the symptoms?
The hallmark of this condition is a painful, red, swollen elbow. Typically pain is worst when resting on the tip of the elbow and/or with elbow movements, particularly when bending or straightening the elbow fully. The pain often lasts a few months and may not go away on its own. The pain may build up gradually, or come on suddenly, depending on the cause. Bursitis caused by infection (septic bursitis) may also be associated with
general feelings of illness such as fatigue, fever and body aches.
What is the treatment?
As there are many different causes of this condition, accurate diagnosis is essential. Your physiotherapist is able to distinguish between olecranon bursitis and similar conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or
fibromyalgia. Septic bursitis will need to be treated by a medical professional who will determine the best course of action. All types of bursitis can be managed initially with a RICE protocol to reduce pain and swelling (Rest, ice, compression and elevation). Mechanical causes of bursitis can require more in-depth identification of the factors that may have led to the development of this condition.
Your physiotherapist is able to address these factors plus provide taping support to unload the bursa along with manual therapy and an exercise program.
Are you concerned about Olecranon Bursitis? Contact us at 250-598-9828 ext 2 to book in with a Registered Physiotherapist.